To My Friends and Family-----
I am going to have open RNY gastric bypass surgery. I have reached this decision because I am 56 years old, 315 pounds, 5'6" tall with a BMI of 50+ putting me in the category of super morbidly obese. I am a wife, mother and grandmother. My quality of life has deminished over the past several years to the point that I am unable to complete many of the tasks required for everyday life. One more failed diet attempt, I take full responsibility for my weight and I am so looking forward to this surgery as a "tool" to aide in regaining my health and live longer in the process. No doctor had ever mentions this type of surgery for me until my PCP pointed out that with my medical complications (co-morbids) I was a very good candidate for the procedure. This July 2002. Three months later at a follow-up appointment I asked him to go ahead and refer me for a consultation.
In the meantime I had gone online to see what was going on. Talked to a co-worker who had had the surgery and checked with my insurance company to see if they covered the procedure. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts and have not had second thoughts or looked back since.
From what I understand insurance approval bcbs - Federal PPO is a walk in the park. Normal approval time 2 days, but only after all the tests have been passed.
My surgeon provides an easy, thorough process starting with group consultation, followed by an individual session. I had my session December 9, 2002. Needed to wait one week then schedule the following appointments. Dr. provides list of consultants for patient to call and schedule. With a two hour drive each way I was glad to have the opportunity to schedule double appointments so as to save trips.
1) Lab work OK.
2) Abdominal Ultrasound (to check for gallstones) gallbladder is OK.
3) EDG - completed February 6, 2003 - GERD.
4) Pulmonary - Completed April 8, 2003 - Mild Sleep Apnea - CPAP machine prescribed.
5) Cardiology - Passed. EKG and Echo
6) Phyc - Passed.
7) Dietary - Passed.
8) Support Group - 2/26/03
2/27/03 - Tomorrow night I attend the Support Group meeting required by my surgeon to have surgery. Sleep study scheduled for Saturday night. At least I will know what is needed to pass pulmunary. I think they just want to know what to do protect me during and following surgery. Hopefully this time next week I will have a surgery date. If not soon. Yes I am very impatient. I am loosing and gaining the same 5 to 10 pounds over and over again. Think I will just eat normal until surgery. Keep wanting what I know I will have for the last meal pre-surgery. Ha!Ha!
2/28/03 - I attended my first Support Group Meeting last evening, I was greatly impressed with the content of the meeting. The greatest think was to see and actually talk to those who are on the other side and well on their way to goal weight. It gave me as a pre-op a more realistic clue of what a 30, 60 or 90 pound weight looks like in comparison to the before pictures. Doesn't visualize the same as a 25 pound sack of potatoes or a 50 pound bag of dog food. These are real people and they look good, at least until they shed there clothes. Many are opting for plastic surgery when they are over two years out.
3/2/03 - Last night I completed the first half of my sleep study. Although it was not perfect the results didn't look to bad, at least to the technician (Margie, you are the greatest) preforming the study. It was determined by my doctor that if the results warrented within the first few hours, they would be doing what was called a split study. I was actually hoping for this as it would mean no additional followup trips. I couldn't be that lucky, however my highs were higher than when I had the oxyimiter test run, and when my oxygen levels dropped this time the doctor will have an overall picture of when this occurs and what I am doing. Yes I will still probably need an oxygen mask when I am sleeping, and will have to have another sleep test sometime post-op but who knows. The tech is hopeful that the doctor in his wisdom will just request the darn mask and pass me for my surgery. It really is felt that the apnea is caused by being overweight. I will update again when there is more news one way or the other.
3/6/2003 - Yet another slowdown. Just spoke to Pulmanary, it has been determined that I will need a CPAP which has been scheduled for April 18, 2003 with a possably earlier date if there is a cancellation. I know realistically that this is for my own good, but this is soooooooo disappointing. The longer it takes to clear these preliminary tests, the longer it will take before the Dr can obtain insurance clearance, the longer it will take to set a surgery date. It seems like I have been waiting forever although it has only been 3 months since my first appointment with the surgeon.
Right now my insurance company BCBS is in negotiations with the hospital (Carson-Tahoe) where the surgery will be preformed. Last month we were informed that BCBS was dropping the hospital as a preferred carrier as of March 12. By the time I am scheduled I am hopeful that a new contract will be in place, otherwise it will be more expense out of pocket. I know that I can handle it, but yes I believe GOD has a plan and that Mr. Murphy's Law is not at work. I must learn patience, I'm only human but I try.
3/6/03 - Last evening my husband and I attended the local support group in our small town, it is surprising the number of people that have had the surgery in our area. Granted not all of them had the same dr or even the same procedure. It was good to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. If anything it makes me appreciate what they have gone through and what I have to look forward to at the end of my journey. I learn a bit more day-by-day, from others and the information highway. At first my husband was just anxious for me to have the surgery and once again be healthy, but the more he has found out the more he realizes that he is also a candidate for the surgery and has scheduled his initial appointment with the surgeon. He could not get in until June 23, 2003 but as long as it is taking for me this is a good thing.
3/9/2003 - Perhaps you have wondered with just about all my tests completed I have not been scheduled for a surgery date. My dr does not even schedule surgery until you pass all the tests and bcbs will not even touch the case until all the preliminaries required by the individual physician have been completed. Maybe the slowdown is for the best, because the hospital continues to negotiate with bc. It sure would be nice when I complete all the preliminaries that the hospital be back in network. Less money out of my pockets, however I think I would go for this at any rate no matter what the cost. Yes, I am impatient but know in my heart of hearts that I need to complete each step to be in the best health I can so that the outcome is good.
3/10/03 - I finally got smart and called Sharon at my Dr's office today. She explained to me how you get a surgery date. This is the first time I really understood how his office operates. Complete all your prequalifiers i.e., support group, phys, nutrition, Cardo & Pulminary. (I am hung up on pulminary). Then the office sets the surgery date, eight weeks prior to that date they contact the insurance company with all the papers, information needed for approval. Thank goodness I have decent insurance. You are usually approved without any hold-ups within 4 days. I think I get the idea now. I will have a surgery date scheduled, but also go on the cancellation list for an earlier date, mind you no more than three weeks prior to surgery because you and your spouse have the horror story visit in other works what can go wrong, sign your life away (you don't have to give your first born), pay your 10%. Then one week prior you have a pre-op basically bloodwork and preregister with the hospital.
No word on negotiations with the hospital yet to see weather they have accepted a new contract with the insurance company, so basically I am looking at the hospital as being out of network. No choice as this is the only place the doctor operates and at this stage of the game I put my foot down at changing doctors. Because the hospital was in network when I started on this journey the insurance won't tell me I have to go elsewhere, besides the doctor is in network, go figure.
I will now patiently wait (NOT) until my CPAP is completed to get on with my life. I am just time type that will not take NO for an answer and April 18th is unacceptable for this test. I will continue calling until they get tired of hearing from me and get me in sooner. I've found that the squeeky wheel does get the grease. So let me get greased.
3/12/03 - Two days since my last update but these are BIG! Yesterday I was on the phone most of the day. Calls back and forth to Sharon at Dr S. Calls back and forth with pulminology. Calls to oxygen service. Persistance paid off.
1. Call received from pulminology after leaving a message the day before. SUCCESS. Question from P: How are you doing on oxygen? ME: WHAT OXYGEN P: I prescribed oxygen March 4. ME: Oh really, news to me. P: Problem with your sleep test ME: Yes P: Was to be a split study (I told you so), Sleep Center doctor overruled P's orders (will wonders never cease, Mr. Murphy in his finest hour once again) ME: CPAP portion scheduled for April 19th. P: Good!!! Here is what I am going to do. a) Call oxygen service to get oxygen started tonight, your oxygen levels drop way too low when you sleep (61% no kidding sherlock) b) Fax clearance to Dr. S's Office so that they can schedule surgery (jump for joy, this is what I wanted from P in the first place) your lung problems are caused by your weight (someone told me something NEW?????).
2. Call received from P 15 minutes later. a) Contacted Oxygen service they will be calling you today. b) Faxed clearance to Dr. S's (skeptical but hopeful)
3. Call received from Oxygen service, they have paperwork need to ask some questions, will deliver Oxygen after 6 PM tonight. (Fire drill while on phone, Dr more important than fire drill and I told the office so, they agreed ha!ha!)
4. Call made sent insurance info to oxygen service. (Called back to see if they received it) YES
5. Call to Sharon Dr. S's ? fax from P. Don't see it but will look around and call you back.
6. Return call just before lunch no Fax (am I surprised? NOOOO)
7. 2PM call to P will you please resend the fax "We already did" (Where do they hire these office personnel in this office from the playground?) ME: Could you please send it again they did not receive it.
8. 3:45PM Sharon from Dr S's just received the fax will get it to the office nurse and call you back (These people are the greatest every efficient no matter how many times you call, yes you may get voice mail but they make every effort)
MARK THIS DOWN 9:30 AM TODAY, I have a surgery date with all other dates needed prior to surgery. Horror meeting, pre-op, plus prescheduling with the hospital and by the way the hospital accepted the new contract from BCBS. Jump for joy and happy dance.
MY SURGERY DATE: August 26, 2003 (No I haven't started the countdown, frankly I haven't thought that far ahead yet)
All my time yesterday netted me a great PAYDAY!!!!!! Good luck to all that are having problems. Keep with it, it really works.
3/13/03 - Now that I am over the shock of getting my surgery date I can see just how far in the future it really is, 165 days and a wake-up. I know the time will fly for me as I am keeping busy. Lucky for me I have everything completed with the exception of the CPAP. Pulminary assured me that this will just be a formality as they want to be able to best protect me during surgery and post-op stay in the hospital. That in itself is very reassuring. It just increases my chances of having the best possible outcome and not become a statistic. I do know that this whole procedure is in some very capable hands including the man up above, so there I stand and will not stress. I am calm for now and will try to remain so. No second thoughts.
3/15/03 - What I want to be able to do post-op
GROW INTO MY CAR
PICK ITEM UP OFF THE FLOOR
NORMAL CLOTHES OFF RACK IN REAL CLOTHES STORE
SHOP TILL I DROP
FIT IN A BOOTH
SHARE A SEAT ON THE BUS WITHOUT BEING CROWDED
SMALLER UNDERWARE - NOT OLD PEOPLE STYLES
TAKE A BATH
WRAP IN A NORMAL SIZE BATH TOWEL
SEE MY FEET WHILE STANDING
ABILITY TO GET OFF SOFA WITHOUT HELP
3/17/03 - Happy St Patrick's Day. Not much to report today, except that I have the remainder of my appointments scheduled. Got a letter from Dr. S confirming my surgery date, so now I have it in writing, Sharon the insurance guru will not be submitting to bc/bs until the first part of July (July 7th to be exact). I understand that bc/bs is really good about approval as long as you meet the criteria and of course I do and then some.
3/21/03 - Sleep Study Part II - CPAP (There was a cancellation)
4/4/03 - Bloodwork
4/8/03 - Dr. PCP to go over bloodwork
5/7/03 - Support Group Meeting
6/4/03 - Support Group Meeting
7/2/03 - Support Group Meeting
7/7/03 - Sharon to send off insurance approval
7/18/03 - Bloodwork (again)
7/23/03 - Dr Appointment PCP
7/31/03 - Educational Training (all the stuff that can go wrong)
8/6/03 - Support Group Meeting
8/19/03 - Pre-op
8/25/03 - Travel to Carson City
8/26/03 - Surgery 9:30am
3/21/03 - Some changes have occured since my last update. Instead of having my second part of my sleep study April 18th, I have it tonight. The office called yesterday and said they had a cancelation. YES! I need to get this done and over with. I don't know if the oxygen they have me on at night is working, but I know the mask the company furnished IS NOT. I have a band-aide on my nose because the dumb mask doesn't fit right. I was going to try to get it refitted today, but I am off to Carson City instead. Believe me I am not putting anything off. Just don't have the time before I leave today. As the Company is open on Saturday I will see these people tomorrow. Wish me luck.
3/23/03 - I have returned from my Sleep Study. Yes. I will require a CPAP machine at least until after my surgery with settings of 12/16 whatever that means. I know that sometime after my surgery which is set for August, I will once again take a sleep study. As that time it will be determined if I will still need the machine. This may be a short term need or a long term need only my body will be able to tell.
Now it is just a waiting game hoping there might be a cancelation with the surgery team so that I might be able to slip in before the 26th of August. That does seem so far away, and it really is if you start to crunch the numbers. With nothing proactive to do until then except attend group support meetings it will seem oh so very long. I just hope that my body holds up. I seem to be hurting more as every day passes. I do try to keep a positive attitude as I know my fellow pre-ops are going through the same thing as I and that we are all in a hurry. No second thoughts for me, I know that this is the right thing, I just can't go on the way I am.
3/27/03 - The Countdown: 151 and a wakeup. I am in frustration mode, waiting for Pulminology to return my call (been waiting three days) Yes I already know I need a BiPAP machine, but they have NOT ORDERED it. I already know I sleep better with it and wake up more refreshed (NO HEADACHE), so why is P taking so long? Incompentent office help. I have heard this from others as well as Dr. S's office. Thank goodness I already have a surgery date or I would be very impatient. Just a little bit of venting. Right now time seems to be creeping along, I don't want to wish my life away, but I sure will be happy when August 26th gets here. Good luck to all that are on this journey.
4/9/03 - The Countdown Continues: 138 and a wakeup. Saw my PCP yesterday to go over bloodwork. I lost a whole pound since January Yea!! My thyroid meds are once again being raised, I don't know weather that is good or bad. My sugar counts are acceptable for now, I continue to take the medication for that. After my appointment with PCP Dr. D the oxygen service finally came to hook up my autopap machine, it took them 3 hours to get it together so that it worked properly. And the service said I could do it myself, ya right. No more appointments until July, I am in a holding pattern. I am very patient at this point because I know that the surgery date will get here. My only hope is that there just might be a cancellation, with my very popular surgion this is just about impossible. At least at my PCP's office they feel that being scheduled for surgery this year is doing good. Does that tell you how popular this surgery is becoming? To all on this long bumpy road good luck and take care.
4/12/03 - I just had a chance to look at the magic Donna has done to my profile. For those of you who have not had your profile prettied up please consider it. Donna was able to take my ideas and put my words into pictures for the world to see. Again Donna Thank You, you have done a great job.
Took my before measurements today. Don't know weather I really want anyone to see them, but that is what this site is for to chart our journey to the loosing side and beyond. I know that a year from now these numbers (and they are only numbers ) will be much much better. At least I could still use a regular tape measure. Not so with a regular scale. I need one that works on people over 300 pounds.
Neck 18 1/2 inches
Bust 59 inches
Waist 53 1/4 inches
Hips 59 1/2 inches
Arms 16 1/2 inches
Thigh 29 inches
Calf 18 inches
Ankle 10 inches
Wrist 7 inches
4/20/03 HAPPY EASTER. Countdown continues 127 and a wake-up. Nothing to report. I am happy to say that I am getting used to my CPAP. Keep dreaming of the day that I will no longer need it or the seven (7) medicines I take each day. I am already making plans for a Christmas shopping spree at my sons.
4/27/03 - 120 days and a wakeup. It's update time again. Do or die I quit smoking April 25, 2003. Not that I was smoking all that much. I have quit twice before along this journey, but always returned to it because I felt stressed. Now what can I turn to? Not food, I just will have to find something else. After surgery I know that exercise will do the trick, but right now that is not possible due to the constant pain I find myself in. Maybe I will just have to be content with reading ALL your journals. Till next time, for those of you along the journey take care and my prayers are with you all.
5/16/03 - I have not updated my profile in some time. I still have 101 days and a wake-up, almost broke the triple digits into the double digits. This is starting to get me excited again. Just because nothing is happening doesn't mean I havn't been hanging out around the message boards, chat rooms and viewed the new updates. What I thought was my permanent CPAP machine turns out to be just one more diagnostic tool. My sleep pattern readings were downloaded on Wednesday and forwarded to the Pulmonology people so that a script could be written for a machine that would carry me through to after surgery, will probably hear of the decission on Monday. So the wait continues, but I am still out there. Good luck and my prayers to all those on this journey to a better life. 6/17/03 -
My goodness only 70 days and a wake-up to go. I am thankful that I am still waking up everyday and can still make it to work. It seems as the days go along I hurt more and am much more out of breath. Surgery cannot get here soon enough for me. I am starting to wrap up whatever I need to at work. Next Monday the 23rd my husband sees the doctor for himself. Thus his journey will truly begin. Just hope that the good lord allows us to both enough time to get to the other side and really enjoy what time we have left in this life. I pray for all of you and hope your journey is successful.
It has been awhile. 56 days and a wake-up. I bet I have what may be the shortest Insurance Approval on record. First thing this morning Sharon (the insurance geru) faxed over my paperwork for approval. In less than two hours she received back the words that are music to every pre-ops ears. I AM APPROVED. This was on the first try. Because of the way BC/BS Federal Program works, you can't even submit your paperwork until eight weeks prior to your surgery date. With most people, the Doctor will not even give the patient a date until the insurance is approved. Does this seem a little backwards to anyone else but me. Not much more to report, but my hubby has decided to start this journey for himself. All take care I will continue to keep you in my prayers along this sometimes bumpy road.
I really think that I am numb 36 days and a wake-up, I am not excited, I am not stressed and I am not anxious. My hubby completed and passed all his tests in two days last week. Isn't that just like a man, where it took me months of waiting he will be given his surgery date July 30, 2003. Don't get me wrong this is not the actual date, just the date he will receive it. I am happy for him as I am for myself. I continue to return to this site as often as I can and pray for those all along the journey.
7/26/03 - 31 days and a wake-up. I have hit one of those bumps in the road, but I am keeping a positive attitude that I will still have my surgery on my scheduled date. Saw my PCP last week and after talks to Dr. Skogerson's nurse Cathy, I cannot have my surgery until my sugar count is back under control. I have until August 14th to do that (I can, and I will). The biggest problem right now though is that I have an infection on my abdominal wall and as long as it is still there no surgery. My PCP and I are fighting for me on both fronts with additional medication for my diabetes and it seems to be working and antibiotacics for the infection. We will see, but GOD knows how important this surgery is for me and will see me through. I pray for all of you along this journey and may yours be a smooth one. I know that I am just being tested, and my resolve is high. Until next time keep the faith.
Just posted my last entry and it got lost. Just 11 days until my surgery, it is really getting close. My PCP cleared me medically yesterday, so on to the pre-op Monday, two more days of work then packing and I am off on my journey. It doesn't seem real to me yet, probably it will hit me as they roll me into the operating room. I pray for all of those taking this journey, and that we will all meet on the loosing side.
I am just a bit slow entering the information about my Pre-op experience on the 18th. Three separate appointments that day, first a two hour drive through rush hour traffic to get to the Doctors office to meet with the surgion for the last time before the big day. He checked me out and said I was good to go, thankfully nothing stopped me this time. I received the prescriptions I will need for both the night before surgery and the liquid I will use for pain after I am released from the hospital should I need it.
After a break for slot machines and lunch it was on to the hopsital for pre admittance. Meeting with the nurse, which was ok, just a very long history to be taken. Chest x-rays to have a before look at my lungs, I was told that this would be a comparison should I become short of breath following surgery. Blood Gasses were next, two sticks to get that @#$5 blood. This is to check the balance of oxygen to carbon dioxide in your blood. Then the vampires get hold of you for the usual blood draw. 9 tubes is a bit much. You have to go pee too, please be sure you do not use the bathroom before hand, it makes it very difficult to accommodate for this test. Last they preform another EKG. Had one early on in my testing. Pulmanary was last, another repeat to see if I am breathing, lets me know that the air is still pushing in and out of my lungs. Two hour trip back home again through rush hour traffic.
The count is just 5 more days and a wake-up. I would thank you all for the support your site continues to provide me. You will be in my prayers, pre post or just thinking about the process.
8/24/2003 - Today is Sunday and I am in the process of packing for my big day. This will be the last time I will be able to come to this site pre-op, but that is a good thing. Tommorrow my husband and I begin our journey to Carson City for the surgery. Clear liquids all day tomorrow, thank goodness my doctor does not require anything stronger than clear liquids for cleanout. Hopefully with xanax I will be well rested the morning of surgery. 5:30am tuesday morning is an early wakeup call to be at the hospital, this is why we have elected to travel tomorrow. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have written words of encouragement from this site. I will pray for all of you on this journey and will see you all on the other side.
Start 9/4/03 POST OP -
I am a looser, all went well with my surgery. I am one of the lucky ones to have no complications, very little pain, some gas (no fun). I had my staples and drain removed 9/2 and at that time I had lost 12 pounds forever. I could not happier at this point. I want to take this opportunity to all those that sent there well wishes. And I want to wish a heartfelt prayer for all of those along this journey.
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Wake Up Call - Get a look at
the Hershey Bar
(Carson City, NV) - Carson Tahoe Hospital
Books & Literature - Read - fiction, non-fiction (history, how--to)
Computers & Internet - computer
Cats - We are sad these days, lost my 20 year old cat, we are down to 2 females.
Needlework, Knitting & Crocheting - Crafts
Genealogy & Family History - Family History, Genealogy - Have been working on combined trees for 10 years
Grandchildren - Two boys age 5 and 2 (they grow up so fast)
Click here to see interests of other ObesityHelp members.
Surgeon: Kent Skogerson, M.D.
Dr. Skogerson reminds me of the typical overage California Surfer, But that's OK by me. He is tops very knowledgeable, and truly feels for his patients. He tells it like it is, you may not want to hear it, but when he tells you it is either surgery or die after a while you get the picture. I have recommended him to a few of my friends and my spouse too. That is just how confident I feel in putting my life in his hands.
His staff is good and with return calls promptly and always have good advice or the answer to your questions.
The biggest draw back is the fact that his office is extremely busy and you may have to wait months for a surgery date. i.e. This is February and we are looking at July?
blue cross/blue shield, fed govt
I have to say that BCBS Federal Employees program is the best by far, although they do not pay 100% 90% is pretty good, with only $100 deductable for the hospital. I was approved within two hours of my doctors office submitting the paperwork. I don't know if that is a record but it must be pretty close. The downside of the program is that the paperwork cannot be submitted more than 60 days prior to the surgery. And initially you will only be approved for a two day hospital stay. No problem they provide a patient advocate to work with the hospital and doctor if additional days are required.
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